Man gets nine years for gun burglary

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A Nenana burglary that yielded two pistols has led to a federal prison sentence of more than nine years for a man nicknamed ''The Leprechaun.''

Mark Leroy Sparks, 41, was sentenced Thursday to nine years and seven months in prison by U.S. District Judge James Singleton.

Sparks, whose nickname may have come from his distinctive beard with no mustache, was arrested March 28, 1999 for the burglary a few hours before.

Singleton earlier sentenced Sparks to 15 years in prison for being a felon and a career criminal in possession of a firearm, as well as theft of the weapon. But an appeals panel ruled that being charged as a career criminal requires the person have three prior convictions for either burglary or violent crime. And the appeals court found one of Sparks' burglary convictions didn't meet the requirements of the law.

With that part thrown out, Sparks faced between seven years and eight months and nine years and seven months in prison.

In Thursday's hearing, defender Kevin McCoy argued for the lesser sentence, contending that Sparks was finally tired of crime. ''He's spent a great deal of his adult life incarcerated,'' he said.

Singleton decided on the longer sentence, which also includes three years of supervised release following the conclusion of the jail time.

''It's just not possible to overlook the fact that Mr. Sparks has been involved in theft-related offenses for the greater part of his life,'' he said. ''I frankly don't believe Mr. Sparks can be can be deterred or rehabilitated by any sentence the court can impose.''

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